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Three-week parental leave extension was 'already expected'

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Minister Roderic O’Gorman

Minister Roderic O’Gorman

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Minister Roderic O’Gorman

Parents of babies born during the pandemic lockdown will each get three extra paid weeks of leave under Government plans.

However, there have been claims the plans fall "far short" of the needs of mothers whose maternity leave coincided with lockdown and that it amounted to the re-announcement of plans to extend parents' leave.

There has been a mounting campaign for women who gave birth during lockdown to have their maternity leave extended by three months with a petition attracting around 28,000 signatures.

Sinn Fein will table a motion in the Dail tonight seeking a temporary extension of maternity benefit from six to nine months for mothers whose claim expires between the start of March and the end of November.

Speaking yesterday, Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said the proposals for an extra three weeks of parents' leave will be the Government's response to the Sinn Fein move.

Proposing

"What the Government is proposing here is that in the context of Budget 2021 to examine an extension of parents' leave from two weeks to five weeks for each parent," he said.

"So that's an additional three weeks for each parent and that leave is paid at the rate of €245 per week."

Mr O'Gorman said the extra weeks would apply to the parents of all children born since November 1, 2019.

"This is a measure to recognise to some extent the particular challenges that mothers and parents have faced during the Covid-19 crisis," he said.

Parents would be able to avail of the leave within two years of the birth of their child.

The National Women's Council of Ireland said it "falls far short of needs of mothers".

Its director Orla O'Connor said increasing the leave is welcome, but this had already been expected.